As some people are already aware, I will, reluctantly, not be seeking re-election as councillor for Joyce Green Ward at the next election.
It’s been an honour and a privilege to serve the ward, and the Borough, for the last thirteen years. I hope I’ve done both justice. Over the time I’ve been lucky enough to work with and for many local residents who are committed to improving their community, as well as those who’ve had their fair share of problems.
I wanted to explain, in my own words, why I’m not carrying on after May.
Balancing the life of a councillor with a busy work life is sometimes a near-impossible task, and I continue to be in awe of the many councillors who do it successfully. Add a new family into that equation, and, in all good conscience, and despite the enormous support I’ve had from them, something has to give. Obviously it can’t be my family, and whilst I’m lucky to have a job I enjoy, it’s also necessary to pay the bills. Which sadly leaves only one option.
I continue to be passionate about the Labour Party, both in terms of its values and its people.
Growing up within the local party, I have come to view it as an extended family, with all the positive things that come with that. Nevertheless, the fact remains that my own new family does, and will always, come first.
I also remain passionate about Dartford, a town I am proud to call home, and one which my wife and I have chosen to lay our own roots.
It’s certainly not goodbye to the Council forever, and I hope to represent the party and the community again at some point in the future.
I am genuinely sorry to be leaving, and will miss my colleagues and my constituents tremendously.
But my departure is made a great deal easier by the fact that we have two fantastic, dedicated, hard-working candidates for Joyce Green in Mark Maddison and Bachchu Kailesh Kaini, who have already spoken with many local residents and are listening to the problems they face. Problems like the regular tailbacks on the A206 which cause misery for residents on The Bridge; or the lack of affordable housing, forcing many residents on Temple Hill to live in cramped conditions.
I know that they will make brilliant councillors and will continue to stand up for people in our ward.
I’d like to thank the leader of the Labour Group, Geoff Prout, for his advice and encouragement over the years. And I’ve been fortunate to serve on the Council alongside my mum, who together with my dad, have been a huge source of inspiration and support.
I’d also like to express my gratitude to the other councillors for Temple Hill for their support – Tom Maddison, Daisy Page, and in particular my ward colleague for the past 13 years, Ann Muckle.
Ann doesn’t always get the recognition she deserves, but seeing at close hand how hard she works to support people who come to her with problems, she’s an example to us all. Ann is also standing down in May, having been doing this far longer than I, and we all wish her a long and peaceful retirement.
And finally, I’d like to pay tribute to another long-serving councillor for Temple Hill, John Muckle, who we sadly lost last year. John was Ann’s husband, and the two of them made a formidable double act.
We all miss John tremendously, not just as a friend, but as someone who delivered positive change for Dartford. He helped build homes for families, he created jobs, he changed the way people and businesses thought of our Borough. He helped build the foundation for a prosperous, vibrant town, and it’s a legacy all future leaders have a duty to uphold.
And, whilst my role on the council is coming to an end, I’ll still be a Dartford resident, watching with great interest as the next era in this town’s history takes shape.
Obviously I hope that will be under a Labour council, but whatever happens in May, I wish everyone who is elected well, and hope that they feel the same pride I have had in representing this great Borough.